Building a Better Bloke


Posted in Confidence, Life skills, Philosophy, Self esteem by Sam de Brito on November 9, 2009

By Rich Nicol

It occurred to me some time ago that advice is something you ask for, not some thing that you hand out freely whenever any possible opportunity arises.

I used to give out advice freely, whether requested or not. I always thought I was “helping” the other person rather than telling them what to do but this was often not how my assistance was received.

Back then I knew everything, I was always right and people would have a much easier time if they just listened to me and did what I said, when I said and how I said it …

Telling people what to do or giving advice can produce various effects for different people.

When I was younger, being given unsolicited advice always felt like a personal attack on my intelligence or ideas and left me a little less confident.

My father was great at doing this and obviously passed the habit onto me.

I eventually worked out that I have to just accept that some people want to do things differently and whether their way is less or more efficient is irrelevant.

I have had troubles sustaining a long-term relationship for much of the past two years. I can now fairly safely say that most of these relationships ended abruptly as a result of my stubbornness and immaturity.

Either I finally had enough of her nagging or she finally had enough of my attitude, which I can now see must’ve been particularly difficult to live with at times.

My ability to act the same way despite many sincere promises to change was one of the common themes.

Some say a sign of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, which brings me to the theme of change.

About eight months into my current relationship I got really drunk one night and just before hopping into the shower I locked myself out of the house, in my underpants.

I then proceeded to borrow the neighbours’ ladder and began to scale the laundry roof. Shortly after this endeavour commenced I was lying on the ground with a massive bruise on my thigh and a left wrist that looked like one of those gruesome viral emails.

For the next three hours I lay on the concrete with a towel over me, the cocaine I had also indulged in providing a very mild painkilling effect.

My girlfriend came home from work and took me to the hospital. Two weeks after surgery resulting in a titanium plate being added to my anatomy, I wound up, yet again, drunk out of my skull somewhere in Kings Cross talking to my irate girlfriend on the phone trying to convince her I wasn’t drunk at five am.

It was shortly after this mental rock-bottom I realised that my will alone could not change myself. My track record was appalling.

Since that moment, over twenty months ago, I have been on a journey aimed at mental, spiritual and physical progression.

For the first time in my life I have started to feel comfortable with people telling me what to do.

I am also able, for the best part, to accept what others do without feeling the need to change them.

My life is about changing myself so I can be in a position to help others effectively when they ask and about contributing to society.

I have learned things about myself that previously I would have had a lot of trouble accepting. I have always thought I was very open to change and still believe I am. The difference now is I realise I only have a very small opportunity to affect change and it is unlikely it will be on my terms.

As a firm believer in environmental conservation and sustainability principles, this new outlook fits much better with my life and I am changing slowly. Changing anything is hard. It can be uncomfortable, challenging, frightening, emotionally revealing and sometimes surprisingly easy.

Considering how hard it is to change oneself I realise that changing entire societies is a monumental task. As humans, most of us are inherently lazy and it is a lot easier to just keep doing what we do rather than change even if what we do doesn’t really work anymore.

Rejecting change is primarily based on fear; fear of the unknown, fear of sadness, fear of happiness, fear of financial insecurity, fear of not getting something we feel we deserve or fear of something we have being taken away.

This fear can give rise to extreme nationalism, racism, sexism and other forms of pride-based identification often leading to things such as the uncanny increase people getting Southern Cross tattoos.

This sort of stuff boosts the ego but eventually destroys self-esteem for it is based on rigid unchanging beliefs, many of which are very outdated and not accepting of change.

The most successful organisms on the planet are the ones that rapidly respond to change and evolve accordingly. There are many things I cannot change and acceptance is the key to living with this fact.

It is only when I can accept my powerlessness that I truly become open to change; better things start to happen when I can accept everything.

Change is a wonderful occurrence; it brings new opportunities, allows for evolution and gives us the option of making things better.

Unfortunately it seems most of society is not really interested in change; selfish acquiescence appears to be the main agenda.

Collectively we only seem to find the will to change things when they break. For the environment that supports us such a time may prove to be too late.

Rich is a 30 something human being. He lives in Bondi has four dogs and a girlfriend and tries his best to contribute to society every day. Being human, he does fuck up every so often. Currently working on the 8th draft of his novel.

9 Responses

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  1. Jim said, on November 9, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for the article Rich, and your naked honesty. What is it do you think that sustains you though such a momentous mental/emotional renovation job?

    Those training to become officers in the Australian Army study command, leadership and management and one of the thngs that is constantly reinforced is the importance of knowing, understanding, developing and nurturing your personal vision and values – the bedrock upon which you shape your identity and the way you interact with others.

    Given the rollercoaster of experiences that led you to attempt the changes in your life you are now making, what is shaping up as your vision? Which values are you beginning to recognise as important? You mentioned a growing environmental awareness, but what about your human environment? It’d be great to hear what you think.

    The name of this blog is “building a better bloke”. I like the title, but I often think that it isn’t too hard in our culture/society to be a “good bloke”. The real challenge is how to be a “better man” – What are the things that make us better men?

  2. - said, on November 9, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Can I say, “Wow. Them bees deep waters.” You’ve given me things to ponder. Thank you.

  3. SexyNinjaMonkey said, on November 9, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Richie, long time no see. What’s news??
    Wasn’t aware you read De Brito’s site. Great article by the way.
    I keep meaning to call you but getting distracted by life.
    We gotta go for lunch soon.

  4. rich said, on November 10, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Hey SNM,
    I noticed your mug shot on here the other day. We shall catch up soon. Lunch would be good.
    To Jim,
    My values have always been the same: to contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way that hopefully changes things for the better. Society for me is the physical environment as well as the people withing it and sustainability principles focus on both equally. I guess I have finally started to pull my head out of my own clacker for long enough to begin alignment of my mind body and spirit towards such goals.

  5. Stuart said, on November 10, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Rich, firstly: great article. Kudos for having the determination not only to initiate change in your self but to document that for the benefit of others

    However change has become something of a buzz-word in business and the personal development industries, with people making big $ running training courses, seminars and whatnot on how to cope with change, how to deal with change, how to invite change out of a drink and possibly get it home afterwards (I may have made that last one up).

    What irks me about this movement is that change doesn’t equate to improvement. Getting cancer is a change, but I would suggest thats its hardly an improvement in one’s personal circumstance. And when do we stop change? Even the best of intentions can be carried too far. If we are embracing change completely doesn’t that leave us in a state of constant flux, with no permanent sense of self or personal accountability?

  6. Jim said, on November 10, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Stuart… It’s interesting you raise the ‘comodification’ of change. I recently heard a fascinating interview with a guy called Joe Gilmore who wrote a book in 1999 called ‘The Experience Economy’. In it he outlines how economic development over the centuries has progressed and how businesses have worked through five stages:

    1. Commodity Businesses (ie. you buy a sack of green coffee beans from someone who grew them).
    2. Goods Business (You buy a bag of coffee beans from someone who has roasted them).
    3. Service Business (You buy a cup of coffee from someone who makes it for you).
    4. Experience Business (you buy the cup of coffee in a cafe that has been carefully designed for the experience it provides).

    And, (stay with me… I will get back on to the original point)

    5. Transformation business (where the experience provided in the cafe carries the promise of personal change, growth or development as a result of the purchase).

    I think what Gilmore is getting at is the way that the promises of future technology that were common through modernity – greater mechanisation/computerisation will lead to more free time and greater personal satisfaction – have proved illusory.

    We still long for things like authenticity, and transformation that is more than something that can be studied, bottled, marketed and flogged for a profit.

    Rich appears to be acutely aware that this can only start as a personal thing and work itself out in the way we interact with others and creation around us. And this will work best when it is grounded in something more timeless and meaningful than our own personal/petty desires over four score years or so on the planet.

    • Stuart said, on November 10, 2009 at 3:50 pm

      Wow, thanks Jim, not only have you given me a new phrase to attempt to shoehorn into conversation this week (“commodification of change”, love it!) but also a new book for my wish list.

      Does Gilmore use those stages as the basis of his argument or is that your distillation? To me I would group those last two stages as the core of the consumption based economy we find ourselves in. When the vast majority of us have long since past the point where we consume to satisfy our basic needs then how does the economy continue to grow? Well instead of buying a shoe to cover your foot, you’re buying a ‘lifestyle’.

      With so much marketing around the ‘transformation business’ I would suggest that it makes genuine personal growth fraught with false prophets (and profits).

      Now I feel like I need to watch Fight Club again.

  7. SexyNinjaMonkey said, on November 10, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Yeah man send me an email and we’ll line something up.
    Incase you don’t have it any more luke(at)sexyninjamonkey(dot)com

  8. IndMike said, on November 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    “The most successful organisms on the planet are the ones that rapidly respond to change and evolve accordingly.”

    thats a fallacy and needs to be corrected as

    “The most successful organisms on the planet are the ones that lucky.”

    I need to better take on board your point about giving advice… as my wife keeps telling me.. 🙂

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